Friday, January 30, 2015

Excited to be Working with Cafe O'Play!

When possible, I try to spend some time with each of my boys independently.  I find them to be very different people one on one, when they don't feel the need to compete for my attention.  I think it is good for them to get all of Mommy's attention without it being turned toward the other brother doing something dangerous, getting hurt, needing the potty, etc.

Recently, I planned a day off to celebrate Mr. I.'s fourth birthday.  We dropped little brother off at day care, went out to breakfast, enjoyed some active play time, met Daddy for lunch at work, and watched some TV together instead of napping!  It was an awesomely fun day!  One on one time doesn't have to be an all-day extravaganza, though.  Even a quick trip to the store, walk around the block, or reading a book together can satisfy that need for undivided attention.

I know that for many families finding ways to spend one on one time with a child can be difficult.  For families not using daycare, finding suitable care for siblings can be difficult. 

This is exactly why I am so excited to be working with Cafe O'Play in Stow, OH this winter.  Children over the age of 2 can play in their large indoor play ground while being supervised by the fantastic and engaging Cafe O'Play staff (with a regular admission ticket) while children younger than 2 along with a caregiver participate in the Signing Smart Beginner Play class. Afterwards, you can play together and get lunch at the cafe. 

My family has already enjoyed several play dates here, and have no plans to slow down on our attendance.  There's always new kids to play with, and I always put happily exausted boys to bed on nights we visit.  We haven't had a chance to try out any of the delicioius looking food yet, but it's definately on our to-do list!  I love the look of their "kid tins" where you choose several different itmes like crackers, fruit, veggies, meat, etc. and it's served in a little six section muffin tin.

Registration for the 8 week class is only $120 and includes the Signing Smart Beginner Handbook, Signing Smart ASL Glossary DVD, and Signing Smart Treasure Chest DVD.  Class will meet at Cafe O'Play on Thursday mornings from 10-11am starting February 26.  As an added bonus, class participants over the age of 1 will be granted re-entry to play after class for just $5! (Children under 1 are always admitted free.)

What's more, there will be a FREE preview class held at Cafe O'Play on Thursday, February 19 at 10am.  You can come see how much fun we have while we play, sing, and sign. This will be the perfect opportunity to have some fun one-on-one time, see what Signing Smart is all about, and register for the 8 week session.

Space in both the preview and 8 week class is limited.  Register early to ensure your space!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Detective Eyes #8

It's been a while since I've been able to capture little ones signing with my camera.   Here's a look at the same boy signing the same sign 10 months apart.  They look similar, and yet, they are quite different.

Signs grow and change as our little ones grow and change.  Those hard to distinguish movements will turn into signs worthy of pictures in a dictionary.  It takes time and experience though!

Here's a video of Mr. L. from about a week after his first birthday.  Do you see his exaggerated sign at the end for HELP?  

Here is the same Mr. L. signing HELP at 22 months.

The hand shape is still two open hands, but the sign is changing.  He uses one movement like the sign class for instead of the repetitive clapping.  Plus, paired with the spoken word, his need is easily understood!

With continued exposure to the sign used correctly in a variety of contexts, Mr. L.  will continue to change and hone his own production of the sign.  Eventually, his signs will look like you might expect by studying dictionary pictures or online videos!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Perceiving Preview Class

There are always quite a number of mixed emotions as I approach a preview class. 

First and foremost, I'm excited.  I love sharing my passion for early communication with families!  I enjoy picking out lots of fun toys and props to bring along, and like to choose the songs and activities I think will be greatly enjoyed by everyone.

I'm also thankful.  I treasure the hosting family or facility for offering their space to me and the other participating families.  It's always a little bit of extra work to get ready for visitors, and I truly appreciate that, most times, the host provides their space for the preview class without charging a fee.  I'm thankful for all of the families who are interested in sharing early communication with their little ones. I applaud the families who are a bit unsure about sharing early communication with their little ones in this way who still come out to learn more about Signing Smart and how using American Sign Language can benefit their family.

At the same time, I'm a bit nervous.  I have my fingers crossed that the weather cooperates, all of the families who planned to come are able to make it, and that everyone has a great time. On the flip side, I'm a bit concerned that far more families will decide to join the fun that I expected.  "What if I don't have enough fun stuff to go around," is always the thought in the back of my mind while I'm packing.  Of course, I know that I always over-pack for just this reason.  So the chances of running out of things to play with are practically 0. 

I imagine the families preparing to attend the class are dealing with the same mix of emotions.  "This will be fun!" "I'm glad we found a fun activity to participate in as a family." "I can't wait to have real communication started so we can end some of these tantrums!" "I've heard good things about signing with kids...but what am I really getting myself into?"  "Will there be other families with our same parenting approach?" "Will there be other children the same age as mine?"  The list goes on, I'm sure.

And then, the time comes for class to start, and any uncertainties are washed away.  As soon as we start singing the hello song everyone is bonded with a common purpose.  We're all there to help facilitate language and communication for the future of our youngest generation.  There are smiling babies, chattering toddlers, and bonding parents.  There are coos and giggles, and even a few signs to be seen and heard.

We're singing and playing.  We're signing. There are questions being asked and answered.  There are families bonding.  Amongst it all, there's learning going on! More often than not, even after the official class winds down, we sing our goodbye song and answer any lingering questions, the event isn't really over.  Little ones continue to play with a favorite toy.  Parents chat about birth stories, parenting, favorite restaurants, best family outings, etc.

On the best days, all of the families at the preview class decide to return and take a full session of classes.  I'm eager for them to continue to strengthen the bond formed during our preview session.  These families may not choose to spend time together socially, outside of class, but while we meet together they will be fabulous allies and resources for each other.

Even if families decide that the present session is not the best fit for them, preview day is a good one. Any day I get to share my passion for language and early communication is a good day.  Seeing eyes alight with understanding, tentatively practiced new signs, and gummy grins only serve to make it all the better!

Friday, January 9, 2015

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year ~ I hope this post finds you safe, happy, and warm!
As we get back into the regular swing of things, it's natural to take a moment to take stock in what the past has brought us and think about where we'd like to go in the year ahead. Where do you find yourself going? In an ideal world, what will be different as you look back on 2015 than it is right now? Are going to learn something new?   Do you plan to focus on changes that will allow you to spend more quality family time? Maybe you're finally taking some time out just for you.
Can I help you make it happen?

My dream this year is to make Signing with Miss Steph a part of more and more families. Shortly after my oldest son was born was born, I made the decision to start teaching infant and toddler sign language classes using the curricula from Signing Smart. In the beginning, it was something fun for us to do as a new family of three, and I included some friends and friends-of-friends to help cover the costs of the license and materials.

As time has progressed, I've seen first-hand the awesome benefits American Sign Language offers little ones, and my passion for sharing this information with others has greatly intensified. I've started to get the word out about benefits such as reduced frustration and tantrums (for babies and adults!), an increased bond between parent/caregiver and child, improved school performance well into elementary school, and so much more signing children experience.

If your plans this year include spending more quality time with your family, sharing a priceless gift with your little ones, or learning something new - we can be a part of each other's realized dreams.

Here's how:

  • Prayers, positive thoughts, good wishes - however you put good into the world, I welcome it!

  • Take a class or workshop - I offer adult/child classes for little ones ~6 months - 2 as well as adult workshops geared to families who are expecting all the way through those with children getting ready to enter Kindergarten. The workshops are also an awesome way for extended family members, teachers, and caregivers to get involved! I offer classes 1:1 as well as for all different sized groups!
  • Share your story - I love to include the perspectives of as many families as possible on my website and blog. If you've taken a Signing Smart class, will you take a moment to share why you're glad you did? If not, could you share why you can't wait to get involved? 

  • Tell a friend - don't have little ones of your own? Please share my contact info with someone who does. Even if they don't live in Northeast Ohio, I am happy to work with them to find a way to benefit from Signing Smart.

  • Recommend Signing Smart to your daycare provider or preschool - the same strategies that help parents at home can help teachers and caregivers in a group setting. 

  • Give a gift- I keep a small stock of all of the Signing Smart materials on hand. They offer books, DVDs, and flashcards for both adults and children. Each has some strategy information included, so they make great shower, birthday, holiday, or "just because" gifts - even for those not able to take a class!

So, where can you find me? Because I don't have I don't have a brick and mortar location, I am able to travel throughout Northeast Ohio. I teach in homes, dance studios, even stores. As long as we have a safe place to play, I'm happy to teach just about anywhere! You can find me online, too:


If your plans for 2015 aren't language or family related, I'd still love to support you as much as possible.  Please share your dreams, plans, or resolutions in the comments below!
Most importantly, THANK YOU - for being a part of my dreams, for sharing your own dreams, and for choosing to share the priceless gifts of early communication and long term learning.